Netherlands - Country Commercial Guide
Market Overview
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The Netherlands is a geographically small (approximately the size of Connecticut and Massachusetts combined), densely populated (17.5 million people) country occupying a highly strategic commercial location. Over 170 million consumers (more than one-third of the population of the European Union) reside within a 300-mile radius of the Netherlands. The country is a key center within the global business network, with advanced infrastructure geared towards the transportation of goods, people, and data. Its core distribution points include Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, the fourth largest airport in Europe for cargo. The country has capitalized on its location and advanced economy to become one of the top trading nations in the world. The Netherlands is the seventeenth largest economy in the world and the fifth largest in the European Monetary Union (the Eurozone), with a gross domestic product (GDP) of just under $1 trillion in 2022. The United States and the Netherlands have a strong bilateral relationship, based on close historical, cultural, and commercial ties. The relationship dates back to the American Revolution and is one of the United States’ oldest, continuous bilateral relationships. The United States is the largest foreign investor in the Netherlands and has its largest trade surplus ($51.5 billion in 2022) with the Netherlands.

The Netherlands consistently ranks highly on various international indexes. The 2022 IMD Competitive Index ranked the Netherlands as the fifth most competitive economy in the world.  The Netherlands’ top position in the ranking is attributed to its outstanding performance in areas conducive to innovation and sustainable prosperity, driven by investments in innovation infrastructure, access to talent, a competitive labor market, and a robust financial network, along with strong international trade links. The Netherlands also ranked fifth in the 2022 Global Innovation Index from the World Intellectual Property Organization, fifth in the 2023 United Nations’ World Happiness Report, and first in the 2022 Education First English Proficiency Index.

Top five reasons U.S. companies should consider exporting to the Netherlands:

  • The ideal European starting point for new-to-export companies looking for their first European distributor.
  • An affluent, U.S.-friendly population with a high regard for U.S. products and the highest level of English-language fluency on the continent.
  • An innovative business community on the lookout for new, high-quality products.
  • The most advanced logistics and distribution network in Europe.
  • Strong links to the rest of Europe and beyond.

In 2022, the Dutch economy saw a growth of 4.5 percent, following 4.9 percent growth in 2021, marking the first time this century that the country experienced consecutive years of such economic expansion. This growth outpaced that of neighboring countries like Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, and the European Union as a whole, despite challenges such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising inflation. The growth was primarily driven by increased household consumption and more hours worked, with 441,000 new jobs added, resulting in a historic increase in the working-age population’s paid employment. Although wages did not rise as fast as inflation, consumer spending on recreation, culture, transport, accommodation, and food services. Additionally, economic growth was fueled by greater spending in areas that were heavily impacted by pandemic-related measures in 2020 and 2021. Notably, Dutch economic growth in 2022 outpaced that of surrounding economies and the EU average, although it had lagged behind in 2021 due to a less severe economic contraction in the Netherlands in 2020 compared to its neighbors. The CBP Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis’ August 2023 macroeconomic outlook predicted GDP growth of 0.7 percent in 2023 and 1.4 percent in 2024.

Political Environment

For background information on the political and economic environment of the country, please click on the link to the

 U.S. Department of State Countries & Areas website.